Sleep apnea affects millions of people yet many of the people aren’t treated. This partly because many people don’t realize they suffer from the sleep disorder. However, other people simply don’t realize how serious the condition can be, especially if ignored for too long. Sleep apnea is a condition resulting from the inability to properly breathe throughout the night. Snoring is almost always present, but so are short periods during which the person stops breathing.
Sleep apnea can result in a number of problems. The longer it goes untreated, the worse the effects are. Some of the results of sleep apnea aren’t too problematic. However, some conditions brought on from this sleep disorder can lead very serious problems that can be life threatening.
Dangers of Sleep Apnea
Problematic effects of sleep apnea come in two forms. Each of these can lead to a variety of health problems or risks.
1. Subpar Sleep
One of the problems associated with sleep apnea, is that it makes it nearly impossible to get the necessary rest needed each night. Although a person may go to bed and stay asleep throughout the night, sleep is generally very shallow and does little to restore the body. Mornings can be difficult for people with this condition and they often feel tired all day.
Excessive daytime sleepiness is one main manifestation of sleep apnea. Some people will feel so tired they can hardly function at work during the day. Falling asleep at the desk is quite common. A person might even doze off during lunch or dinner, or while talking on the telephone. Worse still, the likelihood of falling asleep at the wheel is increased. A number of wrecks have been attributed to sleep apnea.
It becomes very difficult to focus on difficult tasks when sleep is lacking night after night. People with sleep apnea generally have difficulty concentrating. Learning is often impaired and memory may be affected.
Without adequate sleep, a person is prone to many psychological problems. Depression often coincides with sleep apnea. Mood disorders are common. Irritability often surfaces throughout the day for no good reason.
2. Not Enough Oxygen
The strained breathing and periodic stops in respiration make it impossible for an appropriate oxygen supply to be maintained. This results in over taxing of the cardiovascular system. The heart must work harder to try to get enough oxygen to critical organs.
Cardiovascular problems tend to increase due to sleep apnea. The heart generally works harder than normally because the bloods oxygen level is lower. This strain increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke. It is possible to suddenly die during sleep due to heart problems from sleep apnea. Most traumatic heart problems occur during the day when a person is active. Unfortunately, it can be more difficult to get help in the middle of the night.
The dangers of sleep apnea can be easily prevented through proper diagnosis and treatment. There are several successful treatment options. The first step is to visit a sleep specialist or even stay a night in a sleep center. Next, you must stick with a treatment and keep symptoms under control.
Sleep apnea is a much more serious problem than most people realize. Take the time to get checked out if you suspect you might suffer from it. The sooner it is treated, the better off you will be!